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Why is My Air Fryer Smoking? Causes and How to Fix

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Seeing smoke on your air fryer can be problematic, and failure to find a quick solution can damage the air fryer.

When your air fryer starts showing some smoke, unplug it immediately and inspect it to find out the root cause of the problem.

Let's find out what causes smoking in an air fryer.

What is the difference between smoke and steam?

Steam is odorless and involved in the cooking process. However, this is not a cause for concern.

Conversely, smoke is caused by the grease and food particles that stay on the fan or heating elements. The build-up of grime on the fan can also lead to smoking.

What causes my air fryer to smoke?

Several factors can cause an air fry to smoke. They include:

Burning Food Particles: Air fryer smoking can be caused by burning food particles. When cooking battered or breaded food and the food becomes loose, the coated pieces can flow to the air fryer.

The crumbs eventually land on the hot elements and burn. These bits can create clouds of smoke.

Grease: Excess grease is the leading cause of air fryer smoking. Meats with higher fat emit excess fats because they’re cooked at a temperature of 360°F (or more). Meat produces grease that spreads on the hot element, burning, and fumes. More grease means more fumes.

Other smoke-causing agents are chicken thighs, chicken legs, fattier pork chops, hamburger patties, and sausage. One commonality of these food items is that they’re cooked at high temperatures.

However, it’s still possible to cook these foods on air fryers without creating smoke.

Overcrowded basket: Too much food in the basket can disrupt the proper circulation of hot air. Additionally, the food will not cook evenly and may eventually burn, which will lead to smoke.

The basket and basket case are not clean: There may be food or grease stuck on the basket or basket base.  Most brands advise users to clean off grease and debris from the interior with a warm soapy cloth. However, it’s best to read the user manual for cleaning instructions.

Always unplug your unit before cleaning and clean after each use.

BBQ Chicken Legs in air fryer

What type of food causes smoke?

Smoke is usually caused by grease from fatty foods that are overcooked. Sausages, chicken thighs, and hamburgers are popular examples.

Breaded or battered foods that are loose can become problematic if particles blow into the heating elements in the air fryer.

One solution is to wrap the food in aluminum foil. It is important to note foil can only go in the basket. Also, avoid putting tomatoes, peppers, or citrus in aluminum foil.

The better choice is to wrap food in parchment paper and place it in the air fryer after preheating.

Another way to stop the air fryer from smoking is to put two tablespoons of water under the basket before you start cooking.

Sauce, especially those with a considerably high sugar level, for example, barbeque sauce, can be a problem. Placing sauce on food inside the air fryer, especially at the start of cooking, can make it drip and burn. Make sure food is 90% done before adding these high sugar sauces.

What to do when an air fryer is smoking

Step 1: If the smoke coming out of your air fryer is extensive, switch off the machine and examine it to find the root cause of the smoke.

Step 2: Keep your kitchen ventilated by opening a door or window. You can also switch on the vent hood.

Step 3: Remove excess grease. If grease is a problem, insert one or two slices of bread beneath the drawer. The bread will soak up a good portion of the grease and reduce excess splattering.

Step 4: Be sure to place food properly. Thoroughly check the food to ensure they are not in direct contact with the heating elements.

If you see the food touching the elements, then move it away to eliminate the possibility of it scorching or burning.

Is Air fryer smoking normal?

A little smoke is fine, but a lot needs to be addressed. When high-fat food becomes hot, it can create a grease with whitish smoke. Burning can be prevented by adjusting the cooking temperature and time.

An air fryer can also smoke if previous oils are on the basket or the interior area. This is one reason to have a clean basket and pan.

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